tv Comunidad del Valle NBC October 14, 2012 10:00am-10:30am PDT
hello. i'm damian trujillo. we have a very special show. on my left is san jose mayor chuck reid. welcome back to the show and on my right is san jose police officer franco vado. we'll discuss issues and ho hopefully make peace. welcome to the special show. it's no denying that there is a rift between the san jose city hall and the san jose police department. i want to bring both sides together to kind of talk about the issues at length. stay away from 10 to 15-second
sound bites and hopefully discuss the issues in-depth here. i'm not sure when the last time was that both sides got together table like this without consultants or anybody else and shook hands and said let's settle that. >> it depends on what you mean by both sides. the city manager is responsible for negotiations with the various unions including the police union over contract matters and so those meetings continue on a regular basis because we have a contract coming up that needs to be negotiated. those are ongoing. there are a lot of issues to talk about in contract negotiations. >> at some time you would imagine the manager would say let me meet with them and discuss the issues and get to the nitty-gritty. >> that's not the way it works in san jose. our charter sets it up differently. our charter gives responsibility for bargaining to the city manager under the direction of the mayor and city council. we set the policy direction.
we give the manager orders and she carries them out and then through her negotiating team, which is usually led by alex and people from that department. there's not a role for the mayor to sit down with the president of the union and cut a deal. that's not the way it works under our charter. i try to follow the charter. we also want the staff working based on direction of the entire council and not just the mayor. >> maybe not cut a deal but as we described kind of get down to nitty-gritty. would you like to see that sit down with mayor and administration and not the negotiating team and say we're not going to negotiate a settlement here. let's talk one to one about the issues. >> we would welcome that. one of the things that we see is we talk as the mayor indicates, we talk with alex and that's done through the city manager's office transferred to the mayor's office and we know when you tell one story one place as it gets to somewhere else it's always changed a little bit and it may not be intentional.
sometimes going directly to the source, they get their direction from mayor and council and we get direction from our membership and by the time we get together, you never know how the message has been altered. >> can we shake hands and start that way? >> absolutely. >> all right. i mean, i think that this is maybe where we can begin this dialogue. not that we'll solve issues but we were running video just a little while ago of the police academy that just got under way at the end of september. here at last count 45 young men and women who say they still want to wear the patch and badge of san jose police department. there are hundreds of people applying to be a san jose police officer. >> we have hundreds that would like to be a san jose police officer. not everyone is qualified. they won't all make it through. there are a lot of people interested in coming in and we have gaps. our police department is too
small. we're not authorized strength. back to authorized strength and increase the size of the department but having new recruits is an important part of that. we had good field and good quality and that's reassuring to note but it takes a long time to get a recruit in the field where they are competent to do the work they need to do. >> i heard from rank and file officers who will tell recruits what are you doing? don't get into this. this isn't the environment you want to get into. what's your advice to those recruits? >> that's not totally accurate. we believe this is a great job. i still believe in the city. it's a great city. we're being real with them saying you need to come in and get the job and get the training and see where it's at when you're at that position. we've got some of these recruits that we're asking the recruiters do i have to sign a contract? how long do i have to stay? that's one of our concerns. when you lose someone who came
in and you have done all of this training and they walk out the door, you've lost money. the other flip side is when people are leaving and they're experienced, there's no one to train the young guys. they will have to evaluate that on their own. they are already asking questions before the academy started, six people found places elsewhere and took those jobs instead of san jose. >> would you recommend a new recruit to join the san jose police force? >> if he had other options, no. >> we'll get into that in our next segment. if you would like to find out more information about where we're coming from, here's a web address for the city's website for mayor and also poa. logon and we'll talk more about the important topic when we continue. stay with us. [ female announcer ] what would you call an ordinary breakfast pastry
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i'm sorry they don't recommend it. we have great department. one of the best police departments in the country. we very much need dedicated people that want to engage in public service to work with us. we have great officers working for us. we have problems. no doubt about it. it's one of the best departments in the country. we're going to keep it that way. we'll work through the problems and i think there is common ground between what the city council and the mayor say we need and what poa says we need. we all agree we need more officers. we need to increase the size of the police force. there are constraints on what we can do. >> critics have said that i wish i was a san jose police officer because i would be able to take home 90%, 80% of my salary. retirement would be huge. cash in all of my overtime and cash in my sick pay. that might have been the reality before but it's not the reality now and that's a reality that's scaring the current officers on the department. >> one of the big reasons that i say that if you had other options, you might want to look somewhere else.
other cities have gotten together at the table and attacked the pension issues and have worked out solutions. and i just don't see us being there. for a new officer coming into this department, he'll get fantastic training. we are one of the best trained departments around. we truly are. but there's a lot of uncertainty. morale is low. their personal financial uncertainty in addition to rising costs that are burdened on the employees. they are not taking home what they used to. we've had a lot of officers lose homes. we've given the 10% pay concessions. there's so much unknown no that employee coming in. if he can go somewhere that can stabilize a bit, it may be a better position for him. >> i heard from other bargaining units in the last ten years that say we seem to be the one giving. police and fire, they always
stick their guns when it comes to negotiations. the other negotiating units at the table say let's give the same amount as a bargaining unit. >> poa has a long standing reputation of coming to the table and being reasonable. we were the first to fund the system. we gave up 10% as other unions did. there was overwhelming majority of members that did that. we want to help solve the problem. at the same time, you have to provide an environment that is going to make people want to say and not feel like that you are continually just taken to the bank every time. >> that's not up to you entirely. it kind of is up to you as leader of the city. your take on what the officer said? >> it's a tough thing for the officers to have to take a 10% pay cut. they didn't want to do it. we didn't want to make them do it. alternative was to lay off a
bunch more officers. we would have had to lay off 150 more officers if poa and membership hadn't stepped up to take a 10% pay cut. that hurt a lot of people. a lot of officers. it was necessary to save the jobs of the co-workers. paying more for pensions, that's obviously going to hurt as we begin to cover the unfunded liabilities. it will make it difficult for officers. there's reasons the officers have to be unhappy. these are all driven by skyrocketing retirement costs that we're trying to get control over so that we have stability on our police force and other departments. >> you know going in there would be this kind of pushback and animosity if you will in introducing these reforms that you say the city desperately needs? >> i didn't expect team to be happy about it. it's difficult for unions to negotiate givebacks and difficult for individuals to give it back. 10% cut was a big hit. everybody in the city took one. it affected people differently on individual basis.
it was a hard thing to do. i'm pleased that our officers and our firefighters and others stepped up and agreed to that by contract. >> is that comforting or water under the bridge? >> it's kind of water under the bridge honestly. it's not just the 10% pay cut. we have stepped up. we've been on the record for saying we need pension reform. our officers know that as well. our pension system is expensive. it needs reforms. but we need to come to the table and we need to talk about things that we can do legally. we have told the city for two years that the way they're going about it was illegal. and we've offered other reforms that could be saving them money tomorrow. the same pension system that the mayor and council are in, we've proposed that and it's just not their way. they want their way and that's kind of where we start to divide a little bit. >> we'll let you respond in our next segment, mayor.
>> your response over what the officer said? >> we spent 20 sessions with a state mediator. we were not able to come to an agreement because we needed to solve the problem and while proposes were made, they weren't sufficient to solve the problem. the problem is that we can't provide services to our residents. we're facing service delivery and solvency and into bankruptcy if we didn't get control over this. we were determined and the voters agreed with us that we need to take some pretty serious steps to solve the problem. we have done that. we're in the process of implementing it. there's a lot of uncertainty because of the litigation. i'm certain that when we get through it, we'll be able to implement measure b as it was approved by the voters.
>> you mentioned to me in the past that you consider yourself also part of the problem because as a city council member, when the bargaining unit approached the city, you voted to authorize whatever increases and pay and benefits. you still hope for that? >> there's plenty of blame to go around. i have to share some of that blame. i've been on the city council and mayor now for 12 years nearly. i voted for a lot of contracts that i wish i could do over because we increased the benefits, we increased the pay, and we can't afford it. we have gotten ourselves into a situation where the costs are going up so so much and city can't afford it and the employees can't afford it. >> are we going to need a new administration to maybe make things better between the police officers and city hall or do you think there's still a shot here? >> i think there's a shot. again, the mayor had a reform plan. the reform plan started with
10%. we gave 10%. it also had measure b, pension reform. the voters gave pension reform. the last part was increased revenues. one of the things that i would bring up is he had an opportunity to run forward with the tax initiative that could have brought in revenue to help us. if he had simply advocated for that as much as he did for the pension reform, we might be seeing some more revenue that could help us with the public safety right now. the position that we're in with the pension reform haas hasn't even went into effect. may not. if it does in the next two or three years and we've got officers fleeing and crime is exploding. >> that's part of the reason the chief told us that he was exiting the door because he feels that the city did not back him up in the tax measure to help him keep the force he feels he needs. we need 250 officers. we're not near that. there are 100 getting a
background check right now because they want to leave the city. do you think chief chris moore was a casualty of this war? >> i don't know precisely why the chief decided and when he decided. i think the chief like any other officer working for us reaches a point in their career where they can make as much money by retiring as they can while working. that's a pretty powerful reason to retire. the chief does that analysis like everyone else does. i don't blame him. that's what i would be doing. there are many reasons why the chief decided it was time to move on. he's given those publicly. i know he's mentioned the failure of the council to go for tax increase. our fiscal reform plan calls for additional revenues after we lymph mea implemented the other savings. we're trying to implement measure b and it's being held up by the unions. it was my assessment that it was
not winnable in this election cycle for a lot of different reasons which we went into in the public session. >> san jose, no matter what you say, is one of the safest cities in the united states of america. that said, when there's a burglary in progress and there's a huge manhunt, that requires half of the police force to find these guys. >> absolutely. the biggest problem we have is there's not enough police force left. we use the term, one of the safest big cities. we are officers on the street. when i'm face to face with you helping you with your crime problem or whatever you called us for and calls are coming over and we'll say pending, person calling for help. it's very difficult. the reality is that we cannot service the people as they deserve right now. and without more officers, i don't know how to do it. i understand that there's 100 officers in the wings. what i would also say is we did
an internal survey. i don't mean we, the poa. i mean, we, the police department. in that survey, it indicated that about half of the department took it. almost 50% said that -- actually, 68% said that they would leave the department by lateraling or retiring in the next five years and half of the membership took it. the other part said 40% already had applications in. they just may not be in the background process. we could be on the verge of losing 300 officers. i don't know how we police the city of a million with 700. your reaction to that? >> i don't think the police department is big enough today on authorize the strength or actual strength and losing more officers is not a good thing. we have to take steps to do aggressive recruiting and hiring, which we're doing. we need to increase the authorized strength as we get
savings from pension reform and other fiscal reforms we can do that. in the short run, there are things we need to do. we need more officers on the street. the officers stepped up. they're doing it with overtime. we can't keep that up forever. we need to get more officers on the street. one thing we could do is to civilianize the position that the city auditor identified, around 60 or so, we could use civilians because it doesn't require a gun and badge to do the job. we had to pull officers off of the street to do backgrounds on these hundreds of recruits that want to come to work with us. we could do that with retired police officers but we're blocked by the police union who say we don't have enough officers and on the other hand there's a source of additional officers. we have problems in terms of arriving at solutions to the problems. >> you received a ticket, a moving violation if you will.
through the freedom of information act we found out that you were not targeted. that nobody -- it didn't seem from the text messages that were exchanged, that you were looked at and targeted. i don't know if you feel this was a part of the animosity that some of the police officers are feeling. >> i don't know. i know that the officer that stopped me was completely professional. did his job the way i would want him to do his job for anybody else that got stopped. that's the only interaction i had with anybody. all of the other stuff, other people are worried about that. not me. >> all right. we'll be back in our next segment. we ask you to logon to the two websites and find out fmore abot the issues. stay with us. [ male announcer ] this is the opposite of subliminal advertising...
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officers association. anything you would like to get off your chest, mayor, not in sound bite form but here where we are having a conversation with the police union. anything you want to get off your chest? >> i want everybody to know that i personally appreciate the work of our police officers. i know they work hard. they're called upon to risk themselves over and over again and we have a great department with a lot of great people who have committed to it. i am really sorry they had to suffer as other employees have suffered by taking pay cuts and having to pay more for pension benefits but the alternative was far worse and i am sorry that they've taken it personally. i understand that. my job has been to try to look out for the people of the city and people have had to endure some hardships as a result of it. >> how about yourself? >> absolutely. we appreciate the mayor appreciating us. we want more officers on the street. i know he recently made a comment about us standing in the
way to get a few more officers on the street by civilianizing the backgrounds and bringing back retirees. it's interesting he brings that up. earlier we talked about the disconnect that's going between the city managers, the mayor and the actual employee unions and this is a perfect example. the mayor a couple three weeks ago was on record with pension reform talking about something known as double dipping. people retiring, making money and then taking another job and making more money. that was part of the reforms. yet he sits and proposes on the other side the exact same thing. bring back retirees to do the backgrounds at a cost of about a million dollars for the city. we have proposed something different. we've got 40 to 50 officers who are on long-term disability. they've been injured. they limp a bit but they're at home getting paid. they have a vested interest in the city. they care about the city.
they care about the officers that work in the city. and they can do those backgrounds. i'm not sure if the mayor even those that we've proposed that. >> do you, mayor, and what's your reaction to that proposal? >> all i know is we had a lawsuit filed to force us to go to arbitration over whether or not we had to talk to the union. we wanted to talk to the union. we wanted to negotiate. they refused to meet and confer. i don't know there's been a proposal because there hasn't been any meeting and conferring. we're trying to get into meet and confer but the police union has resisted that and have gone to court to seek a court order. there was probably a court order issued this morning saying that we have to go to arbitration to determine whether or not we can get a chance to meet and confer with them. that's not very productive and it doesn't lead to negotiations. >> the idea itself of maybe bringing back those who are on disability and bring them back and work those desk jobs. >> i'm open to any idea that gets more officers on the street
and if we can keep officers from having to come off the street to do backgrounding, we should look at that whether retired police officers or disabled officers or whatever we can. >> we talked about officers maybe not wanting to come to the city although there have been 800 that wanted to join the academy what about the police chief? who will want to come and lead your fellow officers? >> that's a tough one. we've got a lot going on here in san jose. we'll probably have morale lower than i have ever seen it in my 18 years. we've got so much uncertainty in the department. you are taking a ship that's not just losing three to five-year members. there are lieutenants, sargerges that are leaving. you are losing your experience. you will have a difficult battle on trying to get this thing steered straight. >> that's a tough sell to bring in a qualified police chief to lead this major metropolis.
what's your sale pitch? >> it's always tough to find a new police chief. we went through that a couple years ago. i think we'll have a strong pool of people around the country, senior police officials interested in coming here because we have a great police department. we have our challenges. people look for challenges are and willing to come in. we're working on that. we're working on trying to solve the problems. we'll have internal candidates that are well qualified and could step up and do the job. we'll do a nationwide search and whether it's inside from the department or outside of the department, it remains to be seen. >> any final thoughts before we make peace here and break bread. >> i appreciate the opportunity to come here and discuss it. nice to see it from the mayor's side obviously. i hope that we can find a way to get together and get back to the table and come up with some real solutions to the problems we have. >> if you want to do it here, we can negotiate. >> thank you for doing this. it's important for the community
to understand the views of the police union and the views of the mayor and the city council and this is a way to let people know. >> all right. thank you for sharing your part every sunday with us. we want to thank our newspaper for their continued partnership with the show. there are those websites. for more information. we want to thank the mayor's office for agreeing to be here and answer some tough questions and also to the san jose police officers association for doing the same. thank you all very much. you can shake hands and leave cordally there. appreciate it. by all means, if you feel that this is needed again or not, we're always open. >> maybe if we had a table this size for negotiations. barbecue sauce... but...wh, and cheese...and roll it up woo-wee! i've made a barbecue chicken crescent chow down. pillsbury crescents. let the making begin.